- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Column offers the right view of India, Pakistan

As someone who has traveled and followed events in India and Pakistan closely, I agree with Paul M. Weyrich’s assessment of the United States’ relations with the two countries (“India and Pakistan,” Op-Ed, Tuesday). President Bush must make it clear to Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf that the massive financial aid he expects from the United States is conditional on his full cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the region.

So far, it appears he has fallen well short of his promises. According to numerous recent news stories, Taliban and al Qaeda leaders are openly regrouping in the border regions of Pakistan, especially in border cities such as Quetta, and calling for a holy war against Americans and non-Muslims. Pakistani authorities have done little so far to stop these activities that could very well lead to another September 11 — maybe outside the United States this time.

Gen. Musharraf must also be asked to answer allegations that Pakistan bartered nuclear know-how with North Korea in order to get missile technology. What assurance can the Pakistani ruler give that such a transfer won’t be made to Iran or, worse still, that Pakistan’s nuclear technology and materials won’t fall into the hands of Taliban operatives?

Instead of providing massive economic and military aid, Mr. Bush will do well to use firm carrot-and-stick diplomacy to rein in Pakistan. This policy will succeed because Gen. Musharraf and his fellow generals are totally reliant on U.S. economic life support for the survival of an increasingly unpopular military regime.

GEORGE BRUNO

International Affairs Adviser

Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation

Fort Benning, Ga.

Paul M. Weyrich is correct in calling for a reappraisal of American views on India and Pakistan.

Mirroring America’s own melting pot, India is a model of freedom and stability in a region not known for either. Pakistan, on the other hand, has veered from crisis to crisis and has repeatedly relied on nuclear blackmail to obtain concessions from the United States.

While diplomatic niceties may require senior U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Colin Powell to call Pakistan a “strategic ally,” it must be evident to most observers that America’s foremost interest in Pakistan is in preventing nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists. Virtually every terrorist plot uncovered of late has a Pakistani connection, and yet Pakistan is loathe to make fundamental changes to its policy.

India, on the other hand, is slowly building a liberal society, absorbing the best ideas that America has to offer. Indians, living in the second-most populous Moslem country in the world, are not involved in anti-American terrorism.

Indeed, India is the kind of state that America says it wants the rest of the world to look like — democratic, peaceful and secular.

It is time for U.S. policy-makers to break the Cold War stereotypes and remove the proverbial hyphen between India and Pakistan.

KAUSHIK KAPISTHALAM

Atlanta

For better or for worse?

Yesterday’s editorial, “Don’t legalize gay marriage,” reminds me of an op-ed piece William J. Bennett wrote in The Washington Post many years ago called “But Not a Very Good Idea Either” on the same subject.

He made the thought-provoking point that once society strays from “one man and one woman” as the definition of marriage, on what grounds then will they be able to disallow “marriages” consisting of polygamous unions, two men and three women, a man and his dog, etc? Will companies be forced to provide benefits for all one’s “spouses”? What is to prevent an employee from “marrying” his elderly mother, or his mother and father, just to get the company-paid health benefits? Where does it end?

Homosexual rights activists claim they just want equal treatment, but if that were true, they would accept domestic partner unions. Those give all the same benefits as marriages. But the fact that they insist on their unions being called marriages shows their determination to destroy the traditional concept of marriage, and that is not right.

If marriage can mean anything, it means nothing. If they didn’t like 12 eggs being called a dozen, and they wanted to make 29 eggs or six eggs, or any number of eggs a dozen, should they be allowed to make it so?

Why should they be able to legislate a change to the meaning of a word that most people don’t want to change?

ADELE WEEKS

Racine, Wis.

In yesterday’s editorial, “Don’t legalize gay marriage,” you have failed to state just why it is that homosexual marriage undermines heterosexual marriage. Homosexual marriage does not remove or replace heterosexual marriage. It simply expands which pairs can declare lifelong commitment to one another.

Basing your argument on what’s best for children is disingenuous, because it ignores the millions of childless couples and perpetuates the antiquated view that the only reason for marriage is to raise children.

I suggest that the real reason you oppose homosexual marriage is because it enhances the separation of church and state and concomitantly diminishes the influence of the Christian right; however, in the civil realm there is no longer any reason whatsoever to ban homosexual marriage. Canada has it right. Surely, conservatives should embrace the right of two consenting adults to make such a lifetime commitment. It’s time you set aside your outmoded prejudices and approach this issue with intellectual honesty.

I also find it terribly ironic that on this very same Web page on which the editorial appears you accept advertising from a Vermont bed-and-breakfast that promotes homosexual civil unions. There is a word for this: hypocrisy.

WILLIAM MCHENRY

Stow, Ohio

Reading the stats

I am writing on behalf of the some of the nation’s finest and hardworking teachers in response to the article “D.C. students are worst readers” (Page 1, Friday). We are proud of our students’ improvement on many standardized tests. The study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) compares the District’s schoolchildren with children from states across the country, but The Washington Times, though forewarned by the NAEP, made a significant error of interpretation.

On its Web page, NAEP cautions against “interpreting NAEP results in a causal sense.” It adds: “Inferences related to subgroup performance or to the effectiveness of public and non-public schools, for example, should take into consideration the many socioeconomic and educational factors that may also impact performance.” However, we urge that D.C. students only be compared to cities with similar demographics, particularly related to median incomes. D.C. Public Schools, like many other schools around the country, must concentrate on continually working to improve itself and the education it provides for its children.

What that means is that you should not compare D.C. students with students of states that have both poor urban and well-heeled suburban schools. It also means you should not compare the per-pupil cost of running a school system in Washington with a city in any of the 50 states. In Washington, the school board must perform the duties of city and state school administrators, while other cities share those tasks with state school administrators.

For the reasons cited above, the NAEP study makes some unfair comparisons that don’t tell the true story of the hard work and commitment of Washington’s teachers or put the achievements of their students in the proper context.

GEORGE SPRINGER

Administrator

Washington Teachers’ Union

Washington

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